Controversies in the management of paratesticular rhabdomyosarcoma: Is staging retroperitoneal lymph node dissection necessary for adolescents with resected paratesticular rhabdomyosarcoma?

Eugene S. Wiener, James R. Anderson, Jacqueline I. Ojimba, Thomas E. Lobe, Charles Paidas, Richard J. Andrassy, R. Beverly Raney, Stephen J. Qualman, Sarah S. Donaldson, Harold M. Maurer, Michael P. Link, William M. Crist, Holcombe E. Grier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Purpose: Use of retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) in paratesticular rhabdomyosarcoma (PTRMS) is controversial and has changed over the past 2 decades. The Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group (IRSG) required ipsilateral RPLND (IRPLND) for all patients with PTRMS treated on IRS-III (1984-91), but changed to clinical evaluation of RPLNs using computerized tomography (CT) in IRS-IV (1991 through 1997). In IRS-IV, only those patients with identified lymph node involvement on CT required surgical evaluation of the RPLNs. Nodal radiation therapy was administered only to patients with RPLNs recognized as positive; such patients received more intensive chemotherapy as well. Thus, they compared the incidence of recognized RPLN involvement using these 2 different approaches. They then analyzed patient outcome to determine whether this change in management affected outcome. Methods: Eligible patients with group I or II PTRMS who were treated on IRS III (n = 100) or IRS IV (n = 134) were analyzed. Failure-free survival (FFS) and survival (S) rates were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. Results: There was a significant change in the distribution of patients with group I versus II tumors from IRS-III to IRS-IV (group I, 68% in IRS-III versus 82% in IRS-IV). This was the result of decreased node recognition when CT was used to stage FIPLNs in IRS-IV and was most notable for adolescents (≥10 years of age). Overall, 3-year FFS was 92% for patients treated on IRS-III and 86% for those treated on IRS-IV (P = .10), whereas survival estimates were 96% and 92%, respectively (P = .30). Adolescents were at higher risk of RPLN relapse than were children (<10 years of age) and their FFS and survival were worse, regardless of IRS protocol. Furthermore, adolescents with recognized group II tumors experienced better 3-year FFS than those with group I tumors on IRS-IV (100% versus 68%, P = .06), most likely as a result of receiving radiotherapy and intensified chemotherapy. Conclusions: Use of only CT scan evaluation of RPLN in IRS-IV led to a decrease in identification of RPLN involvement in boys who present with localized PTRMS, and a higher rate of regional relapse as compared with IRS-III. Adolescents had much higher likelihood of RPLN disease, and they fared significantly worse than did younger children on both studies. Furthermore, adolescent boys with group I tumors experienced worse FFS than those with Group II tumors on IRS-IV, probably because some patients with group II tumors were not identified by CT imaging and thus received less effective therapy. These data suggest that adolescents should have ipsilateral RPLN dissection as part of their routine staging, and those with positive lymph nodes require intensified chemotherapy as well as nodal irradiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Pediatric Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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